Brick kiln workers of villages around Masuda town in Ajmer district of Rajasthan held a meeting on 5th September at Masuda. The workers deliberated over their situation and decided to form a Union to fight for higher and uniform wages and improvement in work conditions. Masuda is a major source area for brick kilns all over Rajasthan and even other states like Punjab and Haryana. It is estimated that there are 3000 families from 30 villages around Masuda who migrate every year.
The whole family migrates – leaving behind old people and sometimes children of school going age. The recruitment is mediated by labor contractors from within the community. Each contractor negotiates separately with the owners thus bringing down the wages.
The workers from Masuda mostly work on bharai, khadkan, and nikasi i.e. carrying the sun dried bricks to chimney, arranging these in stacks inside the chimney chamber, and carrying the fired bricks outside the chimney. There are few brick makers – pathera – in the area. It was decided to form a state level Union as the workers from the area fan out all over the state. For registration purposes, the Union will have members from four districts – Ajmer, Nagaur, Pali, and Dungarpur. This will later be expanded to include members from other districts and inter-state migrants.
The members also elected five office bearers of the Union of whom three were from Masuda area. Two posts were left vacant for Nagaur district. The meeting released a demand charter asking for higher wages. The workers have demanded a wage hike from 40 percent to 60 percent. The next meeting has been scheduled for 5th of October. It was decided to undertake a membership drive and propagate the demand charter widely. A team will also go to Jharkhand that is a major source district for brick makers to undertake mobilisation work.
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